Tag: christian life

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

 

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The very popular Serendipity Bible for Personal and Small Group Study has made a comeback with the Christian Standard Bible in the Life Connections Study Bible. (Holman Bible Publishers sent me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one.)

I am admittedly new to the Serendipity Bible so we will begin with a little from the publisher:

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible is are a revised and updated version of the best-selling and renowned Serendipity Study Bible. The original Serendipity Study Bible was the culmination of 40 years of community building by Serendipity House Publishers, which revolutionized small groups and personal study through thousands of accessible questions and study helps throughout the Bible.

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible includes thousands of questions and study helps for all 1,189 chapters of the Bible – all updated for today’s readers. This Bible includes short chapter-by-chapter comments about key people, places, and events along with guidance for small group Bible study and personal reflection through the “Open-Consider-Apply” method:

  • Open” questions initiate discussion and/or reflection
  • Consider” questions focus on the details of the passage
  • Apply” questions encourage application to daily life
  • Also included are select “For Groups,” “For Worship,” and “Dig Deeper” questions for further study, reflection, discussion, and application.

 

Translation

The Life Connections Study Bible uses the Christian Standard Bible, a natural choice since Lifeway acquired Serendipity House Publishers. CSB is a mediating translation- it is literal when it needs to be but still very readable.  I am currently using the Christian Standard Bible for preaching and teaching.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the brown leathersoft edition. It is a very convincing imitation leather. Naturally, there is a paste down liner. Most CSB Bibles include a sewn binding and this one is no exception. The sewn binding provides two very nice features: it lays flat very easily and it also makes it fairly floppy and easy to use one handed.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is very interesting; it has a different tactile feel than other CSB Bibles that I have felt. It has a little bit of a newsprint feel. The paper is nicely opaque and should provide no issue with annotating. As is most often the case, I recommend ball-point pen, colored pencil, or mechanical pencil.

The text of Scripture is laid out in a single column paragraph format. Verse numbers are fairly opaque which makes verse finding fairly easy, especially so if you are teaching in a small group. The notes are a little smallish and are laid out in four columns at the bottom of the page. They are separated from the text by a single bold line. A chapter summary is provided for each chapter of the Bible, set off in a green box. Bible study content is in the outer margin on each page.

The font is a black letter text. It is approximately 9.5-point font for the Bible text. Bible study content and commentary notes are about a 7-point font. Perhaps 8-point.

Content

Study Questions

This study Bible includes ready-made discussion and study questions for every chapter of the Bible. Some chapters include more than one study and set of questions. There’s an opening question (or ice breaker), some Scripture-driven questions for consideration, and some application questions, all based on the chapter in which the questions are found. Where appropriate, there are also questions for worship, group activities, and digging deeper in Bible study. May of my colleagues are not fans of the “Discussion Model,” and I understand that but there are benefits to this model. The discussion and study questions are designed to help your small group study to think through the process of understanding the text.

Study Guides

There are 16 topical study courses, 60 life needs courses, and 200 Bible stories available for study. The beautiful feature about these additional studies is that they simply point to selected chapter studies in the Bible. Understanding sacred Scripture is the driving force behind every lesson and every study. While that may seem like an obvious statement you would be amazed at just exactly how much “Christian content” not actually geared toward a true understanding and internalization of the Scripture. Next to each lesson is the Scripture from where the lesson draws Truth and the page number where the questions for that chapter are found. A life needs study on sexuality points to specific chapters from which to draw the Texts and questions. Bonus: all the 60 life needs studies have beginner and advanced options and all of them depend on the Scripture with margin questions from the chapters.

Introductions

Each book has a one page introduction covering Author, Date of Writing, Theme, and Historical Background of the Book. I would have liked to see a small outline of some kind.

Is anything missing?

An earlier edition from Serendipity House, the Interactive Study Bible, was in the same format but had Lectionary Readings. I would have liked to see Holman include lectionary readings for those denominations which follow them, such as our Anglican Brethren.

The earlier edition also included options for personal readings and group study readings. There was also a brief comment on the Modern Message of each book.  (How does the message apply to Christians today.)

Overall Impression

I am fairly impressed with the Life Connections Study Bible. There are a couple of features that I would have liked to see come forward into the new edition but all in all it looks to be as helpful as it is interesting. I will most likely write a use case study as I am able to put it through its paces in church.

Who should buy this Bible?

The Life Connections Bible is ideally suited to the small group leader or, perhaps, the Sunday School Teacher. Even if one does not utilize the “Discussion Model” for teaching, the discussion questions will be most helpful.

 

 

Renewing Your Mind Lesson Notes

Renewing Your Mind Lesson Notes

Opening Remarks:

This past week we observed World Mental Health Day and that, along with the recent suicide of someone that I know. Prompted me to consider what, if anything, the Bible might have to say about the mind and mental health, which led me to the Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Church at Rome

Romans 12:1-2 (CSB) 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.[ 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Paul counsels the Christians at Rome to renew their minds as opposed to being conformed to the pattern of the world. Let us consider: 

12:1 bodies. Not just the physical body but the whole person, with a view to our engaging the world around us living our day to day lives. God’s grace in Christ has made Christians spiritually alive (6:13). true and proper worship. The worship appropriate for thinking creatures who recognize all that God has done for them. This worship is not confined to the Sunday morning worship service; it embraces the whole of life.

12:2 this age. This present evil “age” (Greek aiōn; see Luke 16:8; 1 Cor 2:6,8; 3:18; Gal 1:4; Eph 2:2; 1 Tim 6:17; 2 Tim 4:10) has its own pattern of thinking and living that redeemed believers must avoid. renewing of your mind. The work of God’s Spirit within must reprogram the “depraved mind” (1:28) that characterizes this world (see Eph 4:23).

7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal (Adapted from New Life)

Seek God and Surrender to Him (Matthew 6:33, 1 Peter 5:6)

We have a tendency to follow in the footsteps of our father Adam and to hide from God when we have sinned or when we think that He is angry with us, such as in times of testing. Yet we are advised by the Apostles Matthew and Peter that we should seek, firstly, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

In a sense, this is a type of repentance, which is a turning toward Christ and away from our sin. Of course, this seeking of God’s Kingdom and righteousness is the first step toward a healing and wholeness of mind.

See the truth (Psalm 139:1)

What is the truth that we need to see? That God knows everything about us; He searches our innermost thoughts (Jeremiah 17:10) and, as the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, knew us before we were formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Every trouble we face, every time there is a trial, God knew about it and was not surprised by it.

We can echo the words of the Psalmist when he said, “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for You are with me.”

Speak the truth (James 5:16)

Many times, but not every time, the darkness we feel can come from sin that has not been dealt with, as indicated by James. There are times when we seem to be in darkness and it is caused by a physical illness or perhaps even as a side effect of medication, This is quite normal and if you think this is the case for you, I would encourage you to see your doctor. Perhaps some changes in your care plan which need to be made.

However, if it is not the case that there is a physical illness, then we must speak the truth that it is a spiritual issue and then call upon the elders of the church to assist us through the resolution of the issue.

Accept responsibility (Galatians 6:5)

In those instances where our troubles are caused by our own sin, we must own up to it. In the well-known 12-Steps, the first step is to admit that we have lost control of our lives and that the addiction has taken over, a prime example of accepting responsibility for our sins.

Grieve, forgive, let go (Matthew 6:14)

       It is natural to give those sins which we have committed or have been committed against us. However, in order to avoid allowing that grief to destroy us, we must lay that grief at the foot of the cross and allow the forgiveness of Christ to flow through us.

 Transform your life (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

       God’s comfort flows through us and as it does so it transforms us. No longer are we held captive to our troubles and sorrows. Instead we become instruments of God’s grace unto others as He has given us His grace both directly and through others.

Preserve your spiritual gains (1 Peter 1:8)

It is always a wise idea to keep a record of the Lord’s goodness to us during our faith-walk. It is a good idea to journal- I, personally, like to use a wide margin Bible although many keep a separate notebook.

Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

On a daily basis, I deal with people who are carrying wounds, some emotional and some phyicial and I deal with others who simply feel like their faith has gone dry/stale/stagnant. One of the most helpful tools that I have come across, as a pastor, is the NIV Spiritual Renewal Bible from New Life Ministries, which offers 7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal. I would like to share those precepts with you, today, and we will expand upon them as we go.

 

7 Precepts for Spiritual Renewal

  1. Seek God and Surrender to Him (1 Peter 5:6)
  2. See the truth (Psalm 139:1)
  3. Speak the truth (James 5:16
  4. Accept responsibility (Galatians 6:5)
  5. Grieve, forgive, let go (Matthew 6:14)
  6. Transform your life (2 Corinthains 1:3-4)
  7. Preserve your spiritual gains (1 Peter 1:8

 

No matter the wounds you carry nor how dry your faith may seem, these 7 Precepts will help you to refresh your soul and to restore your fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Everything you could ever need to commune with the Lord is found in your Bible and there is no wound you carry which is too  severe for the Holy Spirit to heal. 

If you are struggling, today, I invite you to trun back to your Bible. There you will find the Holy Spirit waiteing to meet you as you pray over the Scriptures. He will show you HIs ways and restore you to fellowship with Hum. 

Until next time, Grace to you.

 

 

New Disciples Day 30: Promise for Eternity

New Disciples Day 30: Promise for Eternity

Revelation 21:1-4  (NLT)

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Footnotes:

  1. 21:3 Some manuscripts read God himself will be with them, their God.

 

Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT)

22 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit,[a] with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Footnotes:

  1. 22:2 Or twelve kinds of fruit.
Knowing Jesus Day 26: Jesus is Arrested

Knowing Jesus Day 26: Jesus is Arrested

Matthew 26:36-75 (NLT)

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[a] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands[b] of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Jesus before the Council

57 Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered.58 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.

59 Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council[c] were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. 60 But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward 61 who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand[d] and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[e]

65 Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?”

“Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!”

67 Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, 68 jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?”

Peter Denies Jesus

69 Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”

70 But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

71 Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.[f]

72 Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said.

73 A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”

74 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.

75 Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.

Footnotes:

  1. 26:42 Greek If this cannot pass.
  2. 26:53 Greek twelve legions.
  3. 26:59 Greek the Sanhedrin.
  4. 26:64a Greek seated at the right hand of the power. See Ps 110:1.
  5. 26:64b See Dan 7:13.
  6. 26:71 Or Jesus the Nazarene.
New Disciples 29: Love for One Another

New Disciples 29: Love for One Another

1 John 3:11-24 (NLT)

Love One Another

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you.

14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers,[b] it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister[c] is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[d] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:13 Greek brothers.
  2. 3:14 Greek the brothers; similarly in 3:16.
  3. 3:15 Greek hates his brother.
  4. 3:17 Greek sees his brother.
Knowing Jesus Day 25: Jesus Comforts the Disciples

Knowing Jesus Day 25: Jesus Comforts the Disciples

John 14-15  (NLT)

Jesus, the Way to the Father

14 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.[a] If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?[b] When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[c] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, obey[d] my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[e] who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.[f] 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. 29 I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.

30 “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

Jesus, the True Vine

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.

The World’s Hatred

18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures[g]: ‘They hated me without cause.’

26 “But I will send you the Advocate[h]—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.

Footnotes:

  1. 14:2a Or There are many rooms in my Father’s house.
  2. 14:2b Or If this were not so, I would have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. Some manuscripts read If this were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.
  3. 14:7 Some manuscripts read If you have really known me, you will know who my Father is.
  4. 14:15 Other manuscripts read you will obey; still others read you should obey.
  5. 14:16 Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Counselor. Greek reads Paraclete; also in 14:26.
  6. 14:17 Some manuscripts read and is in you.
  7. 15:25 Greek in their law. Pss 35:19; 69:4.
  8. 15:26 Or Comforter, or Encourager, or Counselor. Greek reads Paraclete.
New Disciples Day 28: Living for God

New Disciples Day 28: Living for God

1 Peter 4:1-11 (NLT)

Living for God

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.[a] You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead[b]—so although they were destined to die like all people,[c] they now live forever with God in the Spirit.[d]

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:1 Or For the one [or One] who has suffered physically has finished with sin.
  2. 4:6a Greek preached even to the dead.
  3. 4:6b Or so although people had judged them worthy of death.
  4. 4:6c Or in spirit.
Master Outline 14: Salvation

Master Outline 14: Salvation

Outline Fourteen: Salvation

GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION

 

There are seven facts revealed in God’s plan of salvation, and as you study them, keep in mind that this is God’s plan-not man’s-it is God’s. There is no other plan that can save your lost soul and make you a child of God (Acts 4:12).

 

All roads may lead to Rome, but all religions do not lead to God and salvation. There is only one way, and that is God’s way; and God’s way is a person, and that person is His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

 

God’s salvation is threefold: First, Christ appeared on this earth to save you from the penalty of sin, by putting away your sin by the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross (Heb. 9:26). Second, He appeared in heaven, in the presence of God, after His resurrection, to save you from the power of sin (Heb. 9:24 and 1 John 2:1, 2).  Third, He will appear again on this earth, the second time, as “Lord of lords and King of kings” to save you from the very presence of sin (Heb. 9:28).  Now come to the seven facts of salvation with an open mind and a receptive heart, that God may bring salvation to your soul!

 

1)              It is a fact that God loves you (John 3:16) 16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Notes: It is an eternal fact the God loves you with and everlasting love that cannot be fathomed; it is so boundless that it can only be known by faith.

The little word “so” in John 3:16 is most expressive. It gives you some concept of the magnitude of God’s love. God so loved you, that He gave His only begotten Son, to be made sin for you, that you might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus Christ was made that which God hates: sin-that you might become that which God loves: righteousness. Because God so loves you, you can exchange your sins for His righteousness. Could you ask for greater evidence of love? Calvary is proof that God loves, and longs to save you.

Before going to the next fact, admit to yourself that: “God loves me!”

 

2)              It is a fact that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23).  23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

 

Notes: What is sin?

        Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

        Sin is unbelief; it calls God a liar (1 John 5:10).

        Sin is active rebellion against God (1 Sam. 15:23 OT).

        Sin is passive rebellion against God (Is. 1:2 OT).

        All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).

 

God, who cannot lie, said: “All have sinned.” “All” includes you! You have sinned against God by thought, word, and deed. You have committed sins of commission and sins of omission. In the sight of God, you are a lost sinner.

 

Before going to the next fact, admit to yourself that: “I am a lost sinner, because I have sinned.”

 

3)              It is s fact that you are now dead in sin (Rom. 6:23) 23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Notes: You have already confessed and admitted that you are a sinner. Now God would have you know that “… the wages of sin is death.” You are dead in sin until you accept Christ as personal Savior. The Apostle Paul said, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).  To be saved is to be made spiritually alive in Christ.

What is death?

 

(1)   Death is spiritual separation. Your sins have separated you from God; you are dead in your sins.

(2)   Death is physical separation. It separated the spirit and soul from the body.

(3)   Death is eternal separation. If you remain lost in your sins, you will stand before God at the great white throne judgment. And there your sins will separate you from the mercy of God forever; this is Hades (Rev. 20:11-15).

 

You know that God loves you, and that you are a sinner-dead in sins. Before going to the next fact, admit to yourself: “I am dead in sins.”

 

4)              It is a fact that Christ died for you (Rom. 5:6-8 ) 6) For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Notes: He died for those who are unlike God; this includes you! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like sliver or gold …but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18, 19).

 

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Cor. 15:3).

 

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3).

 

In light of these wonderful Scriptures, will you now thank God for His great love in sending His Son to bear your sins in His own body on the cross, and admit to yourself that: “Christ died on Calvary for me!”

 

5)              It is a fact that you can be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30, 31) 30)  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31) So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

 

Notes: The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas: “Sirs, what must I do to be Saved?” The answer was quick in response, and positive in content: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” Paul and Silas preached the gospel to the jailer and those in his house; they believed and were saved.

 

What is this gospel that saves when believed?

 

First, it is: “that Christ died for your sins.”

Second, it is: “that He was buried.”

 

Third, it is: “that He was raised on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3, 4).

 

Jesus Christ the God-man died for you, was buried for you, and rose form the dead for you; and is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for you (1 John 2:1).

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel is the power of God for salvation only when you believe. Your faith in Jesus Christ releases the power of God that saves your soul.

 

The man born blind received physical sight by a miracle; but, spiritual sight came when Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Lord, I believe” (John 9:35-38).  Salvation came to Thomas when he believed and confessed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:24-29).

 

When you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9, 10).

 

Accept Him now by faith, and pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, I know You love me, because You died on the cross bearing my sins. Thank You, Lord, for revealing to me my lost, sinful condition. I confess that I am a sinner, dead in sin, and cannot save myself. I do now by faith, gladly accept You as my personal Savior, and thank You, Lord, for eternal salvation. Amen!”

 

6)             It is a fact that you can be saved and know it (1 John 5:10-13) 10) He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11) And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12) He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13) These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

Notes: “… that you may know that you have eternal life… “(1 John 5:13). Upon the authority of God’s Word, you can be saved and know it. Your faith in God’s infallible Word is your assurance of salvation. “He who believes in the Son has (present tense) eternal life” (John 3:36).

 

The Bible is a book of certainties. It strengthens convictions, and establishes beliefs. God would have you know:

 

(1)   That you are now a child of God (1 John 3:2).

(2)   That you have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21 and Rom. 10:1-4).

(3)   That you are now a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

(4)   That you are now a son and heir of God (Gal. 4:7). Could you have greater assurance than is found in God’s infallible Word? “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

 

7)              It is a fact that you are now a child of God and you are to obey Him (Acts 5:29) 29) But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

 

Notes: “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). You now belong to Jesus Christ. He is your Lord and Master, and “no one can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24). Determine now to obey your Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, in all things:

 

(1) Unite with a New Testament church. “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

(2) Follow Him in the ordinance of baptism (Acts 2:41).

(3) Join a Sunday school class (Bible Study), and study the Word with God’s children (2 Tim. 2:25).

(4) Attend the worship services of your church (Heb. 10:25).  You need the preaching of God’s Word and Christian fellowship.

(5) Be a faithful steward (1 Cor. 4:2).  All that you are and have belong to God. “… you are not your own. For you are bought with a price …” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).  As a faithful steward, you pay God His tithe (Mal. 3:10 OT). The tithe is one-tenth of your income, and it is the Lord’s (Lev. 27:30 OT).

(6) Make time in your daily life to pray and read God’s word, that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Master Outline 13: The New Birth

Master Outline 13: The New Birth

Outline Thirteen: New Birth

THE NEW BIRTH

It is of the utmost importance that we have a clear understanding of what Jesus meant when, speaking with Nicodemus, He said, “You must be born again”. The new birth is a spiritual birth. It is as much a birth as the natural birth; it is not just a figure of speech. The first birth is of the seed of man. The second birth is of the seed of God (1 Pet. 1:23). Therefore, you cannot become a child of God by joining the church, any more than a monkey could become a man by joining the human race. He may act like a man, dress like a man, and try to live like a man… but he would still be a monkey. Now, if by some miracle, the monkey could be born again of the seed of man, then… and only then, could he become a man. The only way to become a child of God is to be “born again” (John 3:3); not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God”. What is the new birth?

  • • The new birth is a new creation (2 Cor, 5:17).

The new birth is a spiritual resurrection (Eph. 2:1-9).

  • • The new birth is regeneration (Titus 3:5).
  • • The new birth is partaking of the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4).

The new birth is receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, by faith (John 1:12)

 

The new birth is being made the “righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

 

The new birth is compulsory if you are to become a child of God: “You must be born again”.

 

1)    Jesus and The Two Births (John 3:1-8 ) 1) There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4) Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 

Notes: In John 3:1-8, we see Jesus and Nicodemus face to face-Jesus the Son of God, and Nicodemus the son of natural man.  Nicodemus was a very religious man, but he was not a child of God. What a shock it must have been to learn that his religion was not enough! It never is.  He came to Jesus, addressing Him saying, “You have come from God as a teacher”. Jesus knew Nicodemus , as He knows all men (John 2:24, 25), and Jesus knew that he needed more than a teacher-he needed a Savior. He needed more than religion-he needed regeneration. He needed more than Law-he needed life. Jesus began by going right to the point when He said, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Then Jesus pointed out the dissimilarity in the two births: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (the flesh will never change); and “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (the Spirit will never change (John 3:6).

 

First, let us take a brief look at the flesh birth:

(1)   It produces an old sinful nature (Ps. 51:5 OT).

(2)   It produces a perishable nature (1 Pet. 1:23).

(3)   It produces an old nature under the sentence of death (Rom 6:23).

(4)   It produces an old nature that makes every unsaved person a child of the devil (1 John 3:10).

 

Second, let us say a word about the new birth:

(1)   It produces a sinless nature (1 John 3:9).

(2)   It produces a nature that can not sin (1 John 3:9).

(3)   It produces a righteous nature (2 Cor. 5:21).

(4)   It produces a divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

Every born again person has two natures: The old from the old birth, and the new from the new birth. By the old birth, we are children of the flesh; by the new the new birth, we are children of God. This is why, “You must be born again.”

 

2)    The New Birth Issues a New Sinless Nature (1 John 3:9) 9)Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

 

Notes: This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. Do not try to understand it in the light of personal experience. Keep in mind that the above verse is speaking of the new nature-not the old nature-because the old nature is not born from God. The old nature is born of fallen man and is depraved. The new nature is born of God and is holy.

 

First, let us see what the verse says about the new nature:

(1)   The new nature does not commit sin, because it is the product of the seed (sperm) of God.

(2)   The new nature cannot sin, because it is the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4) and since God cannot sin, the new nature that issues from His holy seed cannot sin.

 

Second, let us see what the Bible says about the old nature:

(1)   The old nature does sin any time you let it sin (Rom. 6:12). As a child of God, you will keep under the old nature (1 Cor. 9:27) by not yielding to the desire of the flesh; or the old nature will keep you under, and you will live a defeated Christian life (Rom 6:13).

(2)   There is nothing good in the old nature (Rom. 7:18).  The power to live a righteous life cannot be found in the old nature; it can be found only in the new (Gal. 2:20).

 

If you have been “born again”, you have two natures-the old and the new-and you are walking according to one of the two. Examine your Christian walk in the light of God’s Word (Rom. 8:5, 6).

 

3)    The New Birth is Imperishable (1 Pet. 1:23) 23) Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

 

Notes: In the above verse (23) we have two seeds, two births, and two natures.

 

(1) The corruptible seed issues a corruptible nature (Rom. 1:23). The seed of man became depraved in the seed of Adam when he sinned in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6-10 OT).  Corruptible man can produce only corruptible seed (Matt. 7:18).  “All have sinned…” (Rom 3:23) because all are born in sin (Ps. 51:5 OT).  You are not a sinner because you sin-you sin because you are a sinner.

(2) The incorruptible seed issues an incorruptible nature (2 Pet. 1:4).   You cannot corrupt that which is incorruptible; therefore, the incorruptible seed of God issues a new nature that cannot be corrupted at any time, or in any way. The new birth produces the life of Christ, and this life is made living in man by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:8-10).

 

The seed of man is corruptible; the birth of man is natural. Therefore, the nature of man is sinful. The seed of God is incorruptible; the new birth is spiritual. Therefore, the new nature is sinless.

 

4)    The New Birth-Its Means (Read: John 3:14-18 ) 18 ) And as “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18) He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

Notes: “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” (Num. 21:5-9 OT).  He lifted up the serpent for a sinful, disobedient people. When anyone was bitten by a serpent, he had a choice: He could humble himself and by a simple act of faith look and live (Is. 45:22 OT); or he could refuse to look on the serpent of bronze and die.

 

“Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” Just as the serpent in the wilderness was the only means for the healing of Israel, so the death of Jesus Christ is the only means for the new birth. And the only way to appropriate the regenerating power of God is by faith in the vicarious death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

 

The sinner must come to Christ by faith, believing:

(1) That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (Is. 53:1-12 OT –

and Zech. 13:6 OT).

(2) And that He was buried. This is the proof of His death. He was in the grave three days and nights.

(3) And that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This is the gospel that saves-but it is powerless to save until the sinner believes it (Rom. 1:16).

 

The means of the new birth is found in that:

(1) “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son”-to be the only means of the new birth (John 3:16).

(2) Jesus Christ gladly came into the world to become the only means of the new birth (John 12:27 – and John 17:1-5).

(3) The Holy Spirit came into the world on the day of Pentecost to convince men of their need of the new birth (John 16:7-11).  A personal faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only means of the new birth.

 

5)    The New Birth: Its Threefold Proof (1 John 5:1) 1) Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

 

Notes: Every “born again” child of God has the threefold proof of the new birth-proof that he is a child of God. This threefold proof is: first, inward proof; second, outgoing proof; and third, outward proof.

(1)    “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). Your faith in Christ-that He is God-is personal evidence that you are a child of God (1 John 5:10-13). This is inward proof of the new birth.

(2)   “Everyone who loves is born of God” (1 John 4:7-11).  We are to love our fellow man with the love of God. This we are not capable of doing in the flesh; we must let God love man through us (Rom. 5:5).  This is outgoing proof of the new birth.

(3)   “Everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29).  If you are born of God, you will make a practice of doing right at all times and at all cost (2 Cor. 5:17).  This is outward proof of the new birth.

 

If you do not have the threefold proof of the new birth, now is the time to get on you knees and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior-by faith in His Vicarious death, burial, and resurrection!